The Government of Ontario seems a little too happy about helping to bankrupt the City of Toronto. Yesterday Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that Queen's Park will fund an underground light rapid transit (LRT) line along Eglinton Avenue between Jane Street in the west and Kennedy Station in the east, which will cost $8.2 billion and take ten years to complete.
Meanwhile, the City will pay to extend the relatively new Sheppard Subway line west to Downsview Station and east to Scarborough Town Centre. This project will cost half as much as the Eglinton line, but nevertheless it's money that Toronto just doesn't have. There has been talk of receiving money from a federal program for Public-Private Partnerships, but it won't be enough. Toronto is the teenager asking for a $1,000 snowboard with only $200 in the bank, begging Ottawa (the parent) to foot the rest of the bill.
Don't get me wrong, I believe the federal government should help! Toronto fuels a huge chunk of Canada's economy. But former Mayor Miller's original Transit City plan would have cost much less and served many more people in neighbourhoods that currently have very poor transit options.
Mayor Ford's subway-or-bust approach serves no one: not tax payers (did I mention the $49 million in penalties the City will have to pay for breaking the original Transit City contracts?), not those commuting along Finch West, not those who need an inexpensive and convenient way to access the airport, and not those who study or work at U of T's Scarborough campus.
Please read Steve Munro's comments on this epic fail. Here is an excerpt that sums up how I feel:
"It's hard to get excited about $12 billion going to two very overpriced projects. For years, "transit" in Toronto hasn't been about providing service, it has been about stimulating the construction industry and generating profits for property developers. These are laudable goals, but they must be balanced against the basic need citizens have to get around the whole city."
You tell me: am I being too harsh in my criticism? Or do I have a right to demand that this public service do a better job of serving the people, considering we're paying for it?